Scary is when they call a Code Blue, and you and your intern look at each other, and realize that, although it’s a medical unit, and not strictly your responsibility, you’re probably the closest staff. And then you go running through the hallways, waiting for them to say, Cancel Code Blue, and they don’t, and it’s real. And then you get to the room, hoping that someone else knows what they’re doing, and the random nursing staff standing around the bed are saying, What’s going on? Who found her? What’s happening?

Relief is when the internal medicine intern, whose responsibility it is, comes running in with her medical students, and you can stand by the wall and let her start chest compressions. And when respiratory therapy shows up, and gets a tube in.

Scary is when the intern is too tired to keep going, and the big husky RT at the head of the bed says, Someone else come on, there’s plenty of you standing there. And the most useless group I can see him looking at is the three medical students, and the other girls aren’t volunteering, and I know I better get up there. And she’s cold and stiff, and you can tell by looking at her face that this is never going to get anywhere, but you can’t possibly stop till some person in authority agrees to call the code.

Relief is when the woman at the foot of the bed (I never figured out who she was – probably respiratory too) said I’d been doing it long enough, and called one of the paramedics over (the helicopter nurses always turn up at a code, for practice).

Finality is when the attending who walked in somewhere along the line says, I talked to her family, it’s enough, stop CPR. And everyone suddenly stops, it’s over, we give up, just like that, we acknowledge what we knew all along, she was dead long ago.

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